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Salzburger Volkszeitung - Salzburg - performance date April 13, 1976


Disturbed impression

Sacred music concert of the Easter Festival: Verdi's Requiem

English Translation Maria Kozlova

One can justly call the performance of Verdi's Requiem the culminating point of this year Easter Festival. The result in itself was probably not the best, but in this composition so close to his spirit, Herbert von Karajan undoubtedly regained fascination and brilliance that faded a little in Lohengrin and the two preceding concerts. Requiem became the culmination of the Festival's jubilee celebrations and will sure be it again on Good Friday.


This concert was naturally compared with the summer performance, also under Karajan, but in spite of all, the palm was carried off by the former. The interpretation of music has not changed much. Requiem sounded stunning on Tuesday, with its great dramatic effect, wonderful cantilenas, and powerful symbiosis of the transcendental and the glistening external. The nerve of the music was exposed.


But those who still had the summer performance in memory must have mourned a little for its well-balanced quartette of soloists.The absolutely homogenous voice ensemble of that time now broke down into four perfectly sung individual parts. The voices did not form a single whole; they even "fought" sometimes. Montserrat Caballe's warm and bright soprano expanded so much that she effortlessly drowned her partners. Mirella Freni was not an

unapproachable Padrona, but a touchingly unaffected creature, her voice more flexible, clear and heavenly, if you will. Fiorenza Cossotto's dramatic alto with the same unprotected timbre was not an ideal contrast to Caballe, but her interpretation of this part was probably the most true, natural and impressive.


Jose Carreras' too young voice hardly showed its worth beside such mature "veterans", which does not  belittle, however, the beauty of his wonderful dark-hued tenor. Jose van Dam cannot rival with Ghiaurov in the volume of his bass, but he can very well compete with him in the variety of accents, understanding of text and spiritual

penetration. Van Dam imbibed the monumental power of words specially written for a bass voice. His interpretation in many places was like a well-regulated, serious and thoughtful recitation. The unsurpassed sound and differentiation of words of the Music Lovers Society choir was impressive, although in places they sounded too emphatic and warlike.

After the soprano's dying away Libera me the impression was spoiled by applause that followed without any pause and had quite an embarrassing effect. This time the maestro did not take action to stop inappropriate ovation, and the only alternative for those who wanted to preserve a bit of impression was to flee from the thundering hall.